that's gratitude for you

By Lisa Houserman
Woman Newspapers

Believe me when I say that I am often inspired to shout obscenities while perusing my Facebook feed some mornings, but the inspiration for this column occurred when the subject of whether to thank, or not to thank, came into question. It erupted into a discussion of epic proportions. 

I speak of that old-fashioned, yet charmingly quaint custom of sending handwritten thank you notes via the U.S. Postal Service, of course. Many were of the opinion that it was not necessary to send notes in the mail and were perfectly fine with giving or receiving thank you’s via texts or emails.

On the other side were ardent supporters of the pen/pencil/paper technique. Many also indicated that they had taught their offspring to do the same and were quite strict about it.

As the Facebook chatter continued, I noticed that many of the well-seasoned posters (nice way of saying us older people) were in favor of the handwritten notes, while the younger generation saw no problem with either blowing off the whole process or sending a quick electronic message of appreciation.

As you might have guessed, I am an absolute FIRM believer in thank you notes of the paper and mail variety. Anyone who knows my dear mother, Jacqueline Houserman, shouldn’t be surprised into which category I might fall.

I could be recovering from a gunshot wound to the head and my mother would sweep into intensive care, thrust a paper and pen in my direction, guide my feeble hand toward the writing materials and insist that I begin notes of gratitude to the doctors who saved my life.

I’ll give you a recent real-life example: My son received a graduation gift from a friend of the family. My mother flew into a panic concerning the thank you note scenario. Mind you, only seconds after the gift was delivered, she said to me, “MAKE SURE HE SENDS A THANK YOU NOTE!” - as if I wouldn’t have the sense to do so, especially knowing the ramifications.

Minutes later, she marched over to said grandson with card, stamp and envelope in hand and demanded that action be taken immediately. The poor child obliged of course, in part due to the I’m terrified of my grandmother factor. Also, believe it or not, he might have just taken it upon himself to write the note of thanks on his own. 

We have always been a thank you note clan - quite possibly out of fear. Nonetheless, we were taught to pen letters of thanks or suffer the consequences. Believe it or not, I’m grateful to my mother for drilling - I mean instilling - me with social skills and proper etiquette. 

I also do not think it harms those otherwise delicate creatures known as children if they are forced, at gunpoint even, to pen a personal note of thanks.

It boils down to this: Have a little respect. Simply take the time to pen a little statement with real writing implements (you know, those things from the Stone Age). True, after a wedding or celebration it might be quite time consuming to do so. However, it is still the appropriate thing to do. If you do not heed my advice or warning, you may just encounter Mother in your nightmares - and I would not wish that fate on anyone.